PHOENIX -- Two hours before the Los Angeles Dodgers were to play their season finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said rookie shortstop and leadoff hitter Dee Gordon has earned a shot at being the everyday player at that position in 2012.
"I hate to say he is my shortstop, because you don't want to just anoint anybody,'' Mattingly said. "You don't want somebody coming to spring training thinking they have it made. But you have to look at what he has done and say, 'This is kind of our future at short.'"
Mattingly's pronouncement was hardly a surprise, especially given that Gordon entered the finale hitting .370 after being activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sept. 1. Gordon, who was hitting .301 overall with 23 stolen bases since making his major league debut on June 6, also has shown excellent range and defensive ability at short, although his throwing across the diamond has been inconsistent.
"He has made adjustments and gotten better with his swing,'' said Mattingly, adding that he doesn't think Gordon will take anything for granted this winter even if the position is his. "I don't think he is that kind of guy. We talk all the time about getting better. What I like about Dee is he wants to be great. He doesn't have to go around telling everybody that, but he wants to be as good as he can possibly be.''
Gordon said earlier this week he doesn't feel automatically entitled to the job.
"Not at all,'' he said. "I have to keep working. You never take anything for granted.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.